Heidi Bayer - tpt, flgn
Johannes Ludwig - as
Leif Berger - dr
Calvin Lennig - db
Heidi Bayer - Virtual Leak - Album Review by Cosmo Scharmer
Almost a classical quartet, but only almost, because the piano is missing, which in classical jazz provides harmonic structure through its chords. Instead, in addition to trumpet/flugelhorn by Heidi Bayer, who wrote all the compositions, there is another solo part, that of Johannes Ludwig on alto saxophone. The instrumentation already points in the direction the quartet is striving for musically: more individual freedom and possibilities of expression, less restriction by traditional harmonies, melodies and rhythms. If this is part of the conception of the music, then this claim is probably fulfilled. In other words: It sounds quite like freely intoned jazz, though not as in the unbridled articulation of the Sturm und Drang phase of free jazz.
Free Pieces - Eifel Blues, Something Different, Brač.
Eifel Blues starts with a rather gentle melody line, played in unison by the horns, then the theme dissipates, making way for individual solos. The trumpet's long statement is followed by an even longer solo from the saxophone. Also the rhythm section - with Calvin Lenning on double bass and Leif Berger on drums - does not hide behind the traditional time keeping, but also indulges in soloistic playing, especially Leif Berger. Familiar listening habits have a harder time recognizing the - although existing - structures. To discover the blues in "Eifel-Blues" is even more demanding. The voices of the individual instruments definitely demand concentration when trying to discover and understand the musical logic. Just beautiful "Free det Janze".
The opening sequences disguise themselves, camouflage themselves cleverly. They try to catch the listener with quiet tones, gradually lulling him before it really gets down to business. This is the case with the titles Something Different, Brač: opening theme, solos of the wind instruments, individual expression of all, more expressiveness than harmony and melody. Not quite, as the group sound probably contains its own melodicism. These melodic, sometimes even harmonic parts, and components, however, the listener must first "er-arbeiten, er-hören" to find pleasure in the aesthetics of the music of Virtual Leak. No easy listening, but the efforts are worth it. At least for lovers of the genre.
Ballads - Shores, Sweet'n'Sour
I guess they exist, even as continuous titles. Shores and Sweet'n'Sour are such ballads, which not only flash up thematically at the beginning, but are kept up during the whole track. An opening theme played mostly in unison is spun on individually here as well, but more strongly with epic underlying tones than in the more boisterously played tracks. It starts really carrying, with a touch of melancholy, a lot of feeling, subtle mood. Bassist Leif Berger also takes care of that with his solos, his playing style appropriate to the titles. The alto sax does not want to be inferior to this, spins the thread further. Supported by sensitive sounds of the warm flugelhorn. Otherwise, the alto sax of Johannes Ludwig alternates with the brass of Heidi Bayer. So, also soothing ballads are part of Virtual Leak's repertoire.
Hedwig's Flight, Overshoot, If it Helps, Hot Train
The remaining titles move between the tension poles of unrestrained playing à la Free and ballad-like expression. A high individuality of the whole quartet is recognizable in all titles. An exception in rhythmic terms is Hot Train. It sounds like weird funk with interspersed free music snippets. Heidi Bayer's quartet remains true to itself!